Haifa U. study shows unhappiness with public services

Israelis are significantly less satisfied with the country's public services than they were last year, according to a new study by Dr. Eran Vigoda-Gadot of the University of Haifa's Center for Administration and Public Policy and Dr. Shlomo Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. On a scale of one to five, with five representing full satisfaction, the average grade given to the public services sector by participants in the study was 2.9. Even the relatively high grade given to Israel Railways, a 3.06, was significantly lower than it was last year. A similar decline in satisfaction was registered concerning schools, other educational institutions, hospitals and health clinics. "There has been a persistent decline in satisfaction concerning these institutions since 2001," Vigoda-Gadot said. The lowest rankings were given to labor and social affairs services, the police and the Income Tax Authority. Israelis also expressed a lower degree of faith in various public offices, including security services such as the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the IDF, municipality officials and members of various educational, judicial, health and religious institutions. At the very bottom of the scale were cabinet ministers and MKs, who received a grade of 1.9. By contrast, the degree of faith the public felt towards the media increased. "One may assume that the lack of faith in government institutions is influenced by the growing politicization of the public sphere, which leads to the implementation of decisions that the public views as unprofessional and sometimes irrelevant," Vigoda-Gadot and Mizrahi wrote. They added that the public's dissatisfaction also stemmed from the feeling that financial considerations by public officials were made without taking into account the weaker socioeconomic sector of the population.